Raising the Stakes
Raising the Stakes
Summary: Zaharis and Reighner make a small breakthrough on the skinjobs that could have big implications.
Date: 58 ACH
Related Logs: Hush Hush

Classified Lab Genesis - Deck 13
58 ACH 23817 Souls

OOC Note: This area is Classified. It is guarded from casual entry by keypad and monitored by cameras as well as under guard. If you have not been ICly cleared for access to this area, you do not have sccess.

This Lab is a large, open area set up for modular scientific study. Currently there are cold storage unite here and the location has been prepared as an autopsy and biological analysis lab.

Zaharis is alone in the cold lab, sitting at one of the many counters by a computer console. The autopsy drawers are closed, sparing the room the view of the dead 'twins', and he works steadily with rows of test tubes and their top-end equipment. No music, no sounds but the quiet whirring of the machines and muted taps of the computer keys.

The airlock for the cold lab whispers open, and Reighner steps in. "Major," he mumbles in greeting. The man's on a mission, and he retrieves a rack of freshly-made slides to a microscope.

The brief change of light from red to green and back again makes Zaharis' eyes come up, the only part of him that moves. "Evening." His hand continues on from where it froze, closing the top of the centrifuge he'd been loading. His gloved thumb presses a button and it begins spinning.

Reighner removes one of the slides from the rack. He puts it up against the dim light, peering through the translucent slice of tissue. Then, he rolls up to the bench, knees touching the edge, and places the slide onto the microscope slide. He leans down and looks through the eyepiece. "Textbook," he sighs.

Zaharis peels off his gloves, tossing that pair in the trash. As the centrifuge spins and two other machines nearby work on other samples, he looks back at the readouts on his computer screen. His elbows brace on the countertop behind the keyboard, fingers lacing and mouth pressed gently against them. When Reighner comments, his eyes shift that way a second or two later. "What are you looking at?"

"Pancreatic acinars," Reighner grumbles. He looks up and pulls out a histology reference. Setting it carefully on the bench, he starts flipping through it, looking for the comparison page. "These bodies, if you told me if they were manufactured, I'd call you crazy."

Zaharis' jaw tenses, his eyes going back to the screen. Data's starting to come through, numbers and chemical names rolling across the background. "Everything is coming back perfect. Everything but that damned silica."

Reighner turns to the page that has representative stains of pancreatic acinar cells. He puts his eyes back to the eyepiece. "There must be other physiological changes. You can't just change the central nervous system without changing something else." He sighs and puts the slide back into the box. "Damn it."

Zaharis rubs his fingers along the bridge of his nose, watching the screen. "I'm running a full immunology workup," he says, in a tone that isn't expecting much but holds to its neutrality for now. He exhales slowly through his nose, glancing back towards the autopsy drawers. "There's something. Missing it so far, but there has to be something…" His head shakes slightly.

Reighner plucks another slide and sets it on the stage. He peers through it for only a few seconds. "Wherever it is, it's not in the intestines." He shakes his head and flips through some more pages.

Zaharis watches the screen, eyes flickering back and forth. He goes silent for a time, fingers lowering to the keys, and his attention goes back and forth between the computer and the machines he's working with. After a while he tilts his chin down, frowning slightly. "Got heavy metals in A. Mercury…" He lists off a few other things and their concentrations, which are quite high. "It's in the bladder…she was processing them, that's not normal." He looks over at Reighner. "Kidneys. Get anything unusual off the kidneys?"

Reighner glances over his shoulder. He seems pleasantly surprised. "Mercury in the urine?" He replaces the intestinal slide and files through the box. "Here we are." He pulls out a stain from kidney cells, installs it, and peers through it.

Zaharis is double-checking the data as Reighner goes for the slides. His focused has sharpened as he looks over the screenfull of data again. "Yeah, that's mercury, least in part. Not lethal, but this definitely isn't normal. Should've affected her system at these levels."

Because this was prompted, Reighner takes some extra time with the slide. "I'll be damned, there's some sort of inclusions in these cells. Could be mercury." He drips red liquid from a small bottle onto the slide and lets it slowly do its work. "If this was a regular patient, I'd be thinking environmental poisoning." He glances over his shoulder. "What about B?"

Zaharis watches Reighner intently. Or rather, he watches the slides as if waiting for them to jump up and start tapdancing. His head turns back to the screen, fingers tapping over the keys as he switches views. "No mercury in B, no. Probably was environmental poisoning." He sounds slightly disappointed, but not by much. "Let me see if I can get anything more off these metals while you do that."

Reighner stands from the stool. "Where do you keep their whole blood?"

Zaharis is busy getting a smaller sample from the bit of urine in one of his test tubes. He glances up and lifts his chin towards the wall. "Storage unit, second from left. Whole blood for A is marked A1HN."

"What about B?" Reighner walks up to the unit and stares at it. Eventually, he figures out how to open it.

"Leftmost unit. B2HJ." Zaharis keeps his eyes down, carefully working with the fluid.

Reighner picks up the two vials. He eyes them for a moment before shutting the drawers with his hips and walking back to the station. He carefully transfers small amounts of blood into two fresh test tubes. Setting all of these things aside, he looks through the eyepiece. "Yes, it's mercury. Seems A's kidneys were trying to filter some mercury."

"Effectively enough that it didn't damage them? Well shit, that's something." Zaharis frowns, standing up to take his sample over to one of the chemical analysis machines. He loads it in and his fingers tap over the keypad, programming.

"No, these cells look fine." Reighner takes a kidney slide from B and does the same thing, dripping some red fluid onto the surface. "You think somebody was purposefully trying to kill her? A?" He takes the original blood vials and moves them back into the drawers.

"Not sure. Pretty risky way to off someone." Zaharis drums his fingers on the counter, waiting patiently. The readout comes relatively quickly, and he sets his boot on the rung of his stool as he leans over to read. "Mercury chromide. Now where the hell would she…" And then he stops. His expression changes, like someone had just injected a syringe of icewater into a vein.

Reighner labels the test tubes. He glances up and over. "What?"

Zaharis straightens, rubbing his fingertips across his forehead. "Mercury chromide is a byproduct of some desulfurization processes. It's common. Very dangerous." He turns to pace back towards his computer station, talking as he does. "There was an incident on the Lunar Class Orion about seven years ago, faulty waste disposal, mercury chromide got into the water system and nearly killed eleven crew members." His eyes lift, meeting Reighner's. "Frak me, if she was into the waste system over there…"

Reighner opens his mouth slightly. He clears his throat. "/She/ was the poison?"

"Think about it." Zaharis says, talking quickly and intensely. "Only one's showing signs of poisoning, which she clearly can tolerate. The poison's a common one on ships. If she was trying to poison their water it would look like an accident in the disposal system. Hell, if that's true and she succeeded before they got her, they might already have cases over there that we haven't heard about yet. Son of a bitch." That last is muttered, and he starts shrugging off his lab coat. "I need to find the S2. See what you can do with this heavy metal resistance. Can't well poison the whole fleet and just see who survives, but maybe there's something we can look for."

Reighner stands from the stool. "Yeah, okay." He walks over to the bank of instruments that Zaharis was using, carrying the small test tubes with him.

"Thanks." Zaharis turns on his heel and heads for the doors, tossing the lab coat over his arm.

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